Dear Friends,EdPrep Cover

Tennessee has become a national leader in raising student achievement because of strong resolve to set bold student achievement goals and to make ground-breaking change to reach those goals. On Tuesday, SCORE released Prepared for Day One: Improving the Effectiveness of Early-Career Teaching, a report that explores new opportunities to support greater student achievement.

Well-prepared teachers help students learn and achieve more. Many people know this by experience, and the data support that conclusion. A year with highly effective teaching can help students gain more than a year’s worth of learning growth.

The SCORE report, reflecting thoughtful insight from experts on educator preparation in Tennessee and the nation, is grounded on the premise that thorough preparation for the next generation of teachers will have a tremendous impact on student learning and achievement gaps. Prepared for Day One examines the current state of educator preparation and issues eight recommendations, including strengthening classroom-based experiences for teacher candidates, enhancing the racial and ethnic diversity of the teaching population, and increasing collaboration between educator preparation programs (EPPs) and school districts.

Student teaching, classroom observation, internships, job-embedded experiences, and residencies are all ways prospective teachers can gain experience and refine their practice before graduation. Tennessee already has models worth sharing and drawing inspiration from. The Tennessee Board of Regents’ Ready2Teach provides teachers with a full year in the classroom and a highly effective mentor teacher. Other Tennessee models include the Memphis Teacher Residency, Nashville Teacher Residency, Belmont Urban Teacher Residency, and Project Inspire.

Stronger collaboration between districts and EPPs, another of the report’s recommendations, supports strengthening classroom-based experiences and furthers EPP and district communication on staffing needs and professional expectations for teachers. Districts and EPP partnerships can better prepare future Tennessee teachers through collaboration and innovation.

As Tennessee schools serve an increasingly diverse population of students, we need to intensify efforts to recruit teachers of similarly diverse backgrounds and to provide the support they need for success. A diverse teaching workforce will help students from all backgrounds achieve more.

Most successful Tennesseans can point to a teacher who challenged and supported them. For me, that teacher was Mrs. Ruth Dunning, who taught AP American History and International Studies and sponsored Model UN at my high school. Mrs. Dunning had very high expectations for me and all of my peers. She supported my earliest interest in public service and leadership. My hope is that every Tennessee student experiences highly effective teaching, like the teaching I experienced in Mrs. Dunning’s class. Prepared for Day One: Improving the Effectiveness of Early-Career Teaching charts the steps Tennessee can take to ensure that new teachers enter Tennessee classrooms with the preparation they and our students deserve.

Very truly yours,

Jamie Woodson